Sunday, June 13, 2021

Thankful Sunday, June 13, 2021

 I am thankful for good service people. 

As you know, we lost a tree during a storm a couple of weeks ago. Luckily, through a recommendation of a neighbor (who also lost a tree at the same time), we hired a local tree service to remove the tree. They were prompt, efficient, and fairly priced. We will definitely use them again. So for a great tree guy to add to my list of service people,  I am thankful.

Here's what the tree work looked like.

The storm took down half of the tree and the rest of it was not long for this world, so we had the whole thing removed.

Tree Guy had his two sons helping him. First they cleaned up the fallen branches and chipped all of the debris with a large chipper.

Next, he cut all of the branches he could reach with a pole saw.

The Helpers cleared the area.

Then Tree Guy harnessed up to climb the tree. He had a chain saw tied to him for cutting the higher branches.

It takes a lot of skill to climb a tree with a chain saw safely.

Tree Guy was almost done with the climbing part of this job.

After watching from a safe distance, the Helpers were at work again.

Tree Guy then cut a notch for the final felling. 

The Helpers helped guide where the tree was going to fall. 

And it fell exactly where Tree Guy had planned. The trunk was 27" across.

Logs that were too heavy to lift (and chip), were loaded into the back of the truck with this handy little Bobcat-like machine (stand behind steer skid loader).

About a week later, Tree Guy came back and ground the stump.

Now, the final clean up is up to us. I wish The Helpers were here to help us move the dirt/sawdust to various low places in the yard. (The pile is much bigger than it appears in the picture.)

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

So Long.

Last week we had a storm come through that took down a large tree in our front yard.  The tree was a Bradford Pear and is know to have splitting problems because of the way the branches grow out of the trunk. But this one had beaten the odds. It was over 50' tall and the trunk had a circumference of 27". The good news is that it didn't hit anything and we were able to get it cleaned up before it killed the grass.

But I miss it. It was the one we saw out our kitchen window that provided a beautiful display of white blossoms in the spring and red and yellow leaves in the fall. It was the one we watched squirrels scamper up and down, and the one we watched birds hop from branch to branch. It was the one that a large flock of cedar wax-wings would land on in the spring to feast on the small fruit, and it was the one that provided interest and structure to our yard. 

 In the grand scheme of things, this was a minor inconvenience. But I miss it.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Travel Log, Day Five

 Our Trip to WV and MD

Today, we were back in Maryland in Cumberland. We had visited Cumberland before seeing some of the sites, but planned to explore more areas this morning. Unfortunately, it was raining, so that put a damper on things. However, we did manage to see a few sites before we put the pedal to the metal and headed home. 

Cumberland was a thriving coal and transportation center in the late 1800's and numerous wealthy families were located here. Many of their grand houses are still around today but this is the only one we got a picture of because of the rain.

This the only remaining structure of Fort Cumberland for which the town was named. It was headquarters for British defense in the French and Indian War. A 21 year old, George Washington, led his first command here. Also, his last when he gathered troops at the fort to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion. And bring it back around, this is where the troops started from that crossed the bridge we saw on the first day at Casselman State Park. 

After we got home (and they woke up from their naps),
the cats welcomed us with demands for lap time. 

This vacation was interesting in that we found several connections, both on a historical and a personal level, from place to place that we hadn't planned or even knew about. That made it fun as different pieces fell into place. Next time, we might actually research ahead of time and go with a plan. But maybe not. What would be the fun in that?

We had a great time on our little excursion. There was just the right amount of family time and back road exploring, sprinkled with some history lessons, hikes, and fun restaurants. Sometimes vacations work out and sometimes they don't. This one definitely worked out in the best way. 

Looking forward to our next trip, but for now, regular life is calling.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Travel Log Day Four

Fairmont is the county seat of Marion County
and has an elaborate courthouse.
Our trip to WV and MD.

I planned our trip so that we didn't have much "have to" driving except on the first day. We had a few goals, but nothing hard and fast except to get the wood.  So our days were focused with a couple of things we wanted want to do, but with plenty of time to do what we felt like. Ward studied maps and often decided that a particular road or area looked intriguing, and I reserved the right to stop at any roadside marker that looked interesting. Each day we managed to find a good balance among all of them.

We started our day in Fairmont driving and walking around the downtown area. This was on the way to locate a friend's perennial flower farm.  It's a long story, but I knew the person who ran it through another friend. I felt awkward about phoning out of the blue after not hearing from her for a couple of years, so it was decided that if we saw someone outside, we would stop. If not, we would drive on. The drive there took us over many back roads and through the little town of Fairview. We found the farm, but didn't see anyone outside, so we drove on. 

In the meantime, another sister texted me and said we should eat lunch at the Poky Dot Diner in Fairmont. Timing was right, so we headed back into Fairmont to find it. What a fun place to have lunch. It was bright and colorful, both inside and out. The only problem was that we didn't know that we should go for the ice cream. The food was good, but the ice cream looked incredible. Next time, we will eat dessert first.

Then it was onto the other agenda item for the day--a visit to Prickett's Fort State Park. We had passed the turn off for it dozens of times over the years without time to stop. Today I was going to make it happen. 

Prickett's Fort was built in 1973 and is a reconstruction of a fort in the area from the mid-1700's. Forts were common during this time for defense against Native American attacks. We had planned to do some hiking in the park after we explored the fort, but the heat got the better of us and we retreated to the car. 

After the fort, Ward mapped a back way to get to our next destination for the night. Once again we enjoyed country back roads through the hills of West Virginia with a detour to find a covered bridge we read about on a road sign. 

Here are a few more details from the day.

We drove though Fairview, WV, a little town of about 400 people. It must have been bigger at some point to have it's own high school (which is now a middle school.)

I didn't know the name of my friend's farm, but we thought we were in the right place
 when we saw this flag. I checked online later and found out we were.
Next time, I will call.

Our fun lunch spot, The Poky Dot Diner.

Fort Prickett. Inside were shops, a meeting house and cabins. Later I found out from my genealogist sister that our 4th (or 5th) great grandmother, Phoebe Cunningham, was married here. Phoebe is in the history books because she was captured by Native Americans in 1785 and held captive for three years. These finds are incredible to me. I didn't know I had any history related to this area, but in just two days, I found two places my ancestors had lived.

Inside the fort were different crafts people demonstrating jobs from the time period.  We got a personal talk from this spinner and weaver because Ward and I were the only visitors at that time.

We were also the only ones at the blacksmith's shop and could ask questions to our heart's content.

Just south of the fort was Jacob Prickett's house built about 100 years after the original fort.

We took a tour of the house and learned what life was like in the mid 1800's. This time we weren't by ourselves on the tour, but still were able to see everything easily.

Dent's Run Covered Bridge. This bridge was built in 1889 for a cost of $448. The bridge was 1.5 miles from the roadside marker and we had to ask for directions before we found it. 

Monday, May 31, 2021

Memorial Day

 I will resume my Travel Log tomorrow because I didn't want today, Memorial Day, to go by without an acknowledgement and thank you to the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country. You've heard the story before, but I'm rerunning a post from the past that tells the story of Wards' grandfather who lost his life in WWII.

Memorial Day

Related image
The first Memorial Day we lived here, my boys were almost 7 and 10 years old and I thought it was time for them to understand what Memorial Day was about and to connect with a piece of their family history. As I've written about before (see below), Ward's grandfather, Leo, went down on a ship that was sunk by a German submarine during WWII.

Our first destination was Arlington Cemetery where we thought his marker was. Arlington is a big place so we stopped in the records office and asked for help to locate it. They directed us to a spot with his last name (a very rare one). When we got there, we found the grave site of Ward's uncle who died as a young boy just a few months after his father. But there was nothing mentioning Leo. That was hard for me to believe, but later I understood a little better. I don't know all of the details, but this was a decision made by his widow. Part of the reason was that his body was never recovered so he was actually buried at the bottom of the ocean not at Arlington. Also for security reasons, it took the army five years to officially declare him dead. Consequently, she got no survivor benefits until then and she was doing whatever she could to survive and provide for her remaining son, Ward's dad. When the news became official, that was the past and she had to look to the future. 

But I still had to believe that there was a marker for him somewhere acknowledging his service and life. We finally found one. In the county seat of the county he lived in was a monument commemorating all of the soldiers who lost their lives during WWII. The kids got to see their great-grandfather's name on a list with others who lost their life serving for this country.

I recently asked Theo what he remembers of that day. I wasn't sure if he remembered anything since he wasn't quite 7. He remembers going to Arlington Cemetery and that it was a very solemn place. He doesn't remember much more, but that's okay. I think I planted a seed. When he was older he spent time talking with his grandfather (Leo's son) about his (Leo's) service. Theo wrote stories about it for school. And I know today, he fully understands what Memorial Day is about and is thankful for all who have lost their life while serving our country. As do I.

 Memorial Day--Leo's Story

Today is Memorial Day in the US--the day we remember the men and women who died while serving their country in the armed services. There are many different stories about these people and I'm going to tell one of them here about Ward's grandfather, Leo.

Leo, 1941
Leo was the son of Polish immigrants and as a young man joined the army in 1929. He became part of the Army Engineer division. Later at a dance, he met a smart and pretty young girl, LeeAnn, and married her in 1932. They soon added a baby boy to the family and two years later they had another. After renting a small home, Leo built a house for his growing family. Being an enterprising young man, he used discarded lumber from a railroad yard for much of the house. (By the way, the house that he built still stands firm today.)

Leo's and LeeAnn's happy life was not affected much when World War II broke out in Europe in 1939. However, the Army started to send units to Iceland to build defensive fortifications to be ready just in case. At the end of 1941, his unit was assigned to go to Iceland to help in these preparations. While they were in New York waiting for their boat, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The US immediately declared war against Japan and her allies, including Germany. The US was officially in World War II.

Leo and his unit continued with their orders to go to Iceland, but they didn't make it. Their boat was attacked in the Atlantic by a German submarine and had to be repaired before it could go any further. During the month that the repairs took, the soldiers got to go back and spend time with their families. No one knew that this would be the last time they would see each other.

Their boat was repaired, and they were finally on their way. They made it to Iceland and completed their work. However, on the way back to the states, the boat was attacked by another German submarine and this time it sank. The seas were rough which made it difficult for many to survive. Most went down with the ship. First Leo was declared missing at sea and later he was declared killed in action. It wasn't until several years later that his family knew the details of what happened because much of the information was classified.

LeeAnn was suddenly left with two young boys to raise on her own. A few months later, the unthinkable happened and her younger son was killed in an accident. Despite the terrible losses, she kept going. With various jobs, hard work, and the help of family she carved out a good life for her and her son (Ward's father).

When I met LeeAnn, these events had happened over 40 years ago, but it was like they had happened yesterday for her. She talked about the surprise that Leo was going to bring her when he got home from Iceland and still wondered what it was going to be. She showed me some of the subflooring that Leo built where you could read writing from the railroad cars. She talked about how long it took for them to declare Leo dead and how that affected her benefits. But mostly she talked about the surprise her husband was going to bring her. She thought that it was going to be something to do with their tenth wedding anniversary that they were going to celebrate when he came home.

On this day and everyday, we remember Leo and the sacrifice he made for his country. We also want to remember all of the other men and women who have died in service and hope that their stories have been told. But most importantly, we want to thank each and everyone of them and their families. Because of their sacrifices, we can live a good life today.